Prime minister Viktor Orbán – Photo: PMO

Orbán: Hungary to drift into war if opposition wins

Should the opposition win at Sunday's general election, Hungary would drift into the war in Ukraine, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán said in an interview to commercial television channel TV2 on Saturday. Orbán said it was in Ukraine's interest to draw as many countries as possible into the conflict, and some European countries were ready to participate "directly or indirectly". Hungary has a vested interest in staying out of it, he said.

At stake at Sunday’s election is whether the country can stay out of the war or it will risk its security, he said.

“The left has agreed with the Ukrainians, and Hungary will drift into the war if they win,” he said.

At the same time, certain European Union or NATO member states are also ready to help Ukraine “because they think Ukraine is fighting our war. That is wrong, this is not our war. We can lose everything but gain nothing in it,” he said.

“We help no one by having Hungary shot to pieces or sending weapons that will be shot to pieces in Transcarpathia. Nor do we help Ukraine by imposing sanctions on energy and ruining the Hungarian economy,” he said.

Regarding sanctions on Russian energy resources, Orbán said the nuclear plant in Paks had operated for forty years using Russian technology. “The new facility will have to be constructed nearby, and such a plant cannot house two different technologies,” he said.

Some 85 percent of Hungary’s gas supply and 60 percent of its oil arrives through pipelines from Russia, he said. Lacking a coast where it could receive tankers, this supply line has no alternatives, he said.

“Hungary is on the eastern edges, a frontline country or could easily become one, so silly ideas like sacrificing a little of our comfort to improve the world would not work here,” he said.

Stopping energy deliveries from Russia would topple the Hungarian economy “in an instant”, he said.

If sanctions were imposed on Russian gas and oil, Hungary would have to use its reserves, and would have to shutter factories when they run dry in a few weeks, he said. “A lot of people would lose their jobs,” he said.

Orbán pledged to do everything in his power to avoid that. Hungary supports European unity and the sanctions against Russia — albeit it does not agree with them, it has accepted and refrained from vetoing them, he said. “But energy sanctions are a red line that cannot be crossed,” he said.

Orbán pointed out that Hungary was helping more Ukrainians relative to its population than any other country, noting that refugees were receiving food, accommodation, assistance for transportation and for taking up jobs, while children were being offered free preschool, kindergarten and school placement. Hungarians are helping Ukrainians fairly and from their hearts even though they remember that Ukrainians had mistreated ethnic Hungarians in peacetime, he said.

“War never ends the way those who start it envision it at the beginning, so we shouldn’t take any steps out of eagerness or emotion that we will regret later on,” he said.

Orbán said that because the war in Yugoslavia happened during his premiership in 1999, he had experience in making sure that Hungary stays out of a war happening in a neighbouring country and in managing crisis situations.

International organisations, he said, often recommended austerity, which meant that the populace is made to pay the price of the crisis. Orbán added that he was never willing to go in that direction.

Orbán said his government had drawn up a job protection scheme at the time of the global financial crisis in 2010 and organised fostered work for those who had not been given any opportunities by the market. The government raised wages and it supported entrepreneurs so that they did not have to lay off any of their staff and could carry out investments during the coronavirus pandemic, he said. This is how Hungary made progress compared with the European Union average, he said, noting that Hungary now ranked ahead of Portugal in terms of GDP per capita.

Orbán said the elections are held under new circumstances, noting that electronic devices and the various platforms played a much bigger role now that they had four or eight years ago, so the transmission of data was now more important.

Orbán said the left had unlawfully obtained people’s data and was now “bombarding them with their own political messages”. He said this opened the door to electoral fraud on a scale not yet seen in Hungary.

As regards the referendum on child protection held in parallel with the election, Orbán said that people with “different lifestyles” who several decades ago in western Europe started demanding that they be treated as humans had since established organisations and lobby groups and had begun “promoting their outlook on life — which they have a right to as adults — among children.”

“Gender propaganda” started making its way from the West towards central Europe “and if we don’t stop it then this sexual propaganda targeting our children will easily make its way into schools”, Orbán said. “And when parents want to put a stop to it, we won’t be able to; one day we’ll wake up and see that the raising of our children is no longer in our hands,” he added.

Orbán said the referendum was about protecting parents’ rights to raise their children.

He said the election was “a responsible celebration because we get to decide together what direction Hungary should go in over the next four years”. The prime minister urged people not to stay home and not to put the country’s peace and security at risk.

“The nationally minded side, Fidesz-KDNP, can protect peace and guarantee security, while the left poses a risk of war,” he said. “Think about that when you’re voting.”

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